Possible legal hurdles and concerns on the timing forced President Uhuru Kenyatta to block the removal of Deputy President William Ruto as the Jubilee deputy party leader.
The DP can breathe easy following Uhuru’ decision to thwart the implementation of a proposal by the party’s National Management Committee that could have ousted him from Jubilee.
It emerged on Monday that Uhuru made a last-minute intervention that handed Ruto a lifeline as the Jubilee second-in-command, overruling his allies who have been pushing for the DP’s axing.
Following the President’s surprise move, which is said to have shocked his close confidants, the Jubilee National Management Committee was forced to rescind its proposal.
The NMC, the second most powerful organ with sweeping authority over party affairs, had last week recommended that Ruto be stripped of his mandate as the party’s deputy leader.
The ouster could have completed the purge of Ruto from the rank and file of the party following a previous crackdown where many of his close allies were kicked out of influential parliamentary positions.
“The President flatly rejected the proposal as was recommended by the NMC. That is why the NMC is meeting to reconsider its recommendation,”said a senior Jubilee official who sought anonymity.
The NMC panel on Monday held a meeting in which it is said to have adopted the President’s counsel, technically removing the Ruto item from the agenda of the National Executive Committee’s business.
The President is on Tuesday expected to chair a virtual sitting of the Jubilee NEC that could have ratified Ruto’s ouster as initially recommended by the NMC.
There were concerns among the members of the President’s inner-circle that the timing of the ouster plan was poorly thought out and would instead give Ruto political mileage to play a victim card.
With the handshake being on shaky ground over claims of mischief and backstabbing over the Building Bridges Initiative proposals, Ruto’s ouster would have complicated the President’s game plan.
Uhuru is also said to have been persuaded against the removal of his deputy by the fact that the process could have faced legal hurdles as following a strict Jubilee party constitution that protects Ruto’s position.
The Jubilee constitution provides that as long as Ruto remains the deputy president, he automatically assumes the role of the party’s second in command.
“The President of the Republic of Kenya shall be the Party Leader and the Deputy President shall be the Deputy Party Leader,”reads Article 33 (2) of the Jubilee constitution.
The DP’s allies have argued that before he is removed as Jubilee deputy party leader, he should first be ousted as the DP through an impeachment process initiated by the National Assembly and upheld by the Senate.
They argue the DP’s detractors have no numbers to mount a successful impeachment campaign.
However, the President’s associates have been spiritedly pushing for Ruto’s ouster from the helm of Jubilee party, accusing him of championing the ideals of the United Democratic Alliance, a party associated with the DP.
The DP’s Tangatanga allied MPs have been categorical that they moved on from the ruling party a long time ago and that they are focused on building the UDA party as their 2022 political vehicle.
The UDA outfit has been fielding candidates in various by-elections as part of the strategy to popularise it as an alternative vehicle in the 2022 elections.
Last week, the Star exclusively reported that the President was to chair a virtual NEC meeting on Tuesday to adopt the NMC recommendations to remove Ruto from the helm of the party.
But on Monday, Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju declined to comment on the outcome of the NMC meeting insisting that the party will address the media on Wednesday on their discussions.
“We met today. We have nothing to say until a press statement on Wednesday lunchtime,”he told the Star.
Last week, Tuju had confirmed to the media that the NMC had indeed recommended to NEC that Ruto should be kicked out as the Jubilee deputy party leader.
“The NMC discussed the matter and resolved to remove the DP as per the party constitution. The matter is active, we have the recommendations of NMC and now only waiting for the party leader to convene a NEC meeting to deliberate on the matter,”Tuju said last week.
Courtesy: The Star